Thursday, September 24, 2009

cloning myself = bad idea

why is it so important to us to be the same?
kids are always trying to be the same as their friends. dress the same, do the same things, have the same toys. then when we reach adolescence we try so hard to express our individuality – yet somehow we all look the same while we do it.
those of us who remember the 60’s and the 70’s – all the hippies expressing their feelings against the “establishment” – all did so in the same manner. when punk became popular – thousands of kids – all dressing the same and listening to the same music – again showing how “different” they all were. so many subcultures - goth, rave, emo – cookie cuttered together.

when we grow up, most adults would tell you that they strive to express themselves. to be themselves. to be their own person. ok, sounds great.
think about this: if we prize our individuality so much, why then, when it comes to our marriages, do husbands and wives try so hard to be the same? we attempt, whether we always recognize it or not, to get our spouse to do things the way we do things. to think like we do, to address conflict the same way we do. well, don’t we? we’re thrown off guard when we discover that we have so many dissimilarities. hello?

it is ironic that way back then, we were attracted to our mate because of many of those distinctions. now, our variations can be the very issues that escalate into deal breakers in our marriages.

gunther and i are about as different as you can possibly be. and yes, it was because gunther was so different from me that I fell so hopelessly in love with him, and he with me. little did we know that in the years to come, we would have our work cut out for us.
certain situations seem to trigger our differentness fairly easily. take, for example, travelling.

last weekend, we decided to head down to southern california to visit our son and his family. generally we pack our own gear. gunther has an old army duffle bag that belonged to his dad. it is his favorite “suitcase”. whatever he needs for the trip gets crammed and shoved into that bag. when we reach our destination? you guessed it, in order to unpack, the duffle bag gets upended, usually onto the floor.

i like to use a suitcase. i can fold my clothes in such a way that with a glance i can see what i have with me, and what outfit variations i have available to me. the more choices the better. when we arrive wherever we are going, if i can’t unpack into a dresser or a closet, i can keep everything neat and tidy during our stay.

gunther cannot comprehend why i need so many choices. i don’t see how he can think through the mess.

decision making is another huge divergence in our home. gunther likes to take his time, contemplating every angle, making sure he’s gathered all his facts. even when he thinks out loud, and sounds as though he’s come to a decision, i have learned not to be fooled. there may be a whole lot more thinking that has to take place before he lands. he won’t make a decision until he’s confident that he has examined the issue from all sides.

on most issues, i tend to make fairly quick decisions. i gather what information i think i will need, match that information against any applicable goals, morals, scheduling, whatever, and bam! decision made.

one more example: socially, i think i would’ve been a hermit if i had not married gunther. seriously, i could’ve holed away with a good book for most of my adult life. thanks to my husband’s stretching affect on me, i have learned to extend much farther. i enjoy most social functions, and can hold my own in a crowd. but i am still a wallflower at heart.

gunther adores people, adores social settings, loves to be in the middle of a crowd. he’s always been the people guy. he is as comfortable chatting with a perfect stranger, as he is with his own family.

these are only a few of dozens of examples in our relationship. when we carry these differences into our everyday living - you can imagine all the ways we have to deal with our differentness. i think most of us agree – appreciating and living with someone’s uniqueness can be challenging.

i heard a great story recently that has helped me allow for our distinctions: a man and his wife decide they are going to go to the top of the skyscraper so that they can see the view from the top. they get to the lobby and she sits down to put on her jogging shoes. she wants to take the stairs. no way! he says. he has no intention of climbing all those steps, he wants to take the elevator. so they exasperate themselves and each other struggling to change the other’s mind. the reality is that they both have the same goal – they want to get to the top. so why not embrace their differences and let the other one get there they way he or she wants? they can still enjoy the view together – which was the whole point in the first place.

i’m learning – again – to give my husband space to be himself. truth is, i like that he’s not like me. i like it a lot. he’s not going to do things my way. i’m not going to do things his way. it’s ok. we will live. and we can adapt. we are adults.

sameness = boring. vive la difference!

these are our two youngest grandchildren. ethan (the blondie) wanted his peanuts neatly kept in the drink slot of the cooler. he wanted to eat his snack from his “plate” – alone.
wyatt, wanted to share. he wanted to experience snack eating together with his cousin.
two different styles. you see the conflict it produced? they are not adults.